Health Service Executive of Ireland v PA, PB and PC



Judge: Baker J

Citation: [2015] EWCOP 38

Summary

This case concerns the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection to recognise and enforce foreign protective measures under Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.    That Schedule represents the implementation in English law of obligations contained within the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults (‘the Convention’) ((which the United Kingdom has ratified in respect of Scotland, but not England).

It is a long and complex judgment, representing by some measure the most comprehensive analysis of these provisions since the Act came into force.

The background concerns three young Irish individuals with complex mental health needs, all of whom were considered by the Irish Health Services Executive and the Irish High Court to require treatment in England because suitable treatment was not available in the Republic of Ireland.    The Irish High Court made orders under its inherent jurisdiction in relation to each of the individuals providing for their detention, care and treatment at facilities run by St Andrew’s Healthcare.   Whilst each of the individuals were, in principle, detainable under the provisions of the MHA 1983, the Irish High Court considered in each case that they wished to retain jurisdiction over the individuals so as to be able to ensure that the key decisions in relation the care planning for ‘its’ citizens could be made in Ireland, rather than in England.

All three individuals were initially placed in England under arrangements made under Council Regulation 2201/2003 (‘Brussels IIR’), which (inter alia) provides a mechanism for cross-border placements in relation to children (as to which see our comment on the case of HSE Ireland v SF [2012] EWHC 1640 (Fam)).    When they turned 18, however, this mechanism ceased to be effective, and the HSE therefore sought recognition and enforcement of further Irish High Court orders under the provisions of Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.     Such orders have been sought and made previously, including in the reported case of Re M [2011] EWHC 3590 (COP), but never on a contested basis.    Indeed, in PC’s case, the Court of Protection had already recognised and declared enforceable the initial relevant Irish order in December 2012, and recognised and declared enforceable an order providing for his transfer from one facility run by St Andrew’s to another in early 2015.

Because the cases of PA and PB raised very similar issues (and it was recognised that the same issues of principle were engaged in PC’s case), Baker J listed all three cases to be considered at the same time.   The Official Solicitor acted as Advocate to the Court in all three cases and PA and PB were represented (directly) by solicitors and Counsel (PC was neither represented nor present).   The ‘stress-testing’ that Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005 underwent in consequence was considerable.

In a detailed judgment, Baker J made a number of key findings/observations in relation to Schedule 3, set out in the paragraphs that follow (nb, these re-order slightly the paragraphs of the judgment so as to move from the general to the specific).

Schedule 3 implements, as a matter of domestic law, obligations in respect of the recognition, enforcement and implementation of “protective measures” imposed by a foreign Court regardless of whether that Court is located in a Convention country (paragraph 39).

In consequence, it is not permissible to apply one rule for Convention states and another for non-Convention states.  In other words, the Courts of England and Wales should note automatically adopt a more cautious approach when asked to recognise and enforce an order of a non-Convention state. Each case will turn on its own facts, to which the Court of Protection must apply the provisions of the Schedule, in particular the provisions as to recognition in paragraph 19 including the grounds on which recognition may be refused. Plainly the Courts of England and Wales will have proper regard to the general principles of comity in all cases, although a greater degree of caution may be required when considering orders made by certain countries (paragraph 39).

There is an important difference between the persons who fall within the general jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under the MCA and those in respect of whom protective measures taken by a foreign Court may be recognised and enforced by the Court.   The Court of Protection’s general jurisdiction exists in respect of persons who lack capacity within the meaning of s.2(1) MCA 2005; the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under Schedule 3 arises in relation to ‘adults’ – defined for those purposes in paragraph 4(1) as a person over 16 who, as a result of an impairment or insufficiency of his personal faculties, cannot protect his interests (and who is not subject to either the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention or Brussels IIR).   The scheme of the Convention, reflected in the Schedule, is to focus on the factual description of the adult rather than any legal test as to capacity.   In each case, the Court must look at the order and judgment of the foreign Court – and if it thinks it necessary to do so, and insofar as it is permissible to do so under paragraph 24, the evidence before the foreign Court – to establish whether the foreign Court has made a finding which is binding or, if not, whether the individual comes within the meaning of “adult” under paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 3 (paragraphs 43-4).

The scheme of the Convention which underpins Schedule 3 is to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of protective measures taken by foreign Courts save in the circumstances set out in paragraphs 19(3) and (4). The measure “is to be recognised” if taken on the grounds that the individual was habitually resident in the country where the order containing the measure was made. The grounds on which a measure may be challenged may be procedural (paragraph 19(3) or substantive (paragraph 19 (4)). By reason of paragraph 21, however, provides that for the purposes of paragraphs 19 and 20 any finding of fact relied on when the measure was taken is conclusive, there is no power to challenge the finding made in the foreign Court that the individual is habitually resident in that country.  Accordingly, a finding of a foreign Court that the individual concerned was habitually resident in that country cannot be challenged in any process to recognise or enforce a measure in this country, although the process by which the measure was ordered may be challenged (for example, if the individual was not given an opportunity to be heard) and the measure itself may be challenged (for example, if inconsistent with a mandatory provision of law of this country) (paragraph 52).

Paragraph 19(3) of Schedule 3 gives the Court a discretionary power to refuse to recognise a protective measure if certain procedural safeguards are not met. It is plain from the way in which Schedule 3 paragraph 19(3) is drafted that the Court only has a discretion to decline to recognise a foreign order if it thinks that the case in which the measure was taken was not urgent and the adult was not given the opportunity to be heard and that omission amounted to a breach of natural justice (‘thinks’ for these purposes meaning ‘concludes on the balance of probabilities) (paragraph 55).

Paragraph 19(4) of Schedule 3 gives the Court a further discretionary power to decline to recognise a measure in a foreign order in certain circumstances spelt out in the sub-paragraph. In contrast to sub-paragraph (3), these grounds upon which an application for recognition may be refused are separate rather than cumulative. Thus, the Court may refuse recognition if it thinks that (a) recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy; or (b) the measure would be inconsistent with a mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales; or (c) the measure is inconsistent with one subsequently taken or recognised, in England and Wales in relation to the adult.   As Mostyn J had identified in Re M 19(4) (a) and (b) appear to be two sides of the same coin (paragraph 62).

By including Schedule 3 in the MCA, Parliament authorised a system of recognition and enforcement of foreign orders notwithstanding the fact that the approach of the foreign courts and laws to these issues may be different to that of the domestic court. These differences may extend not only to the way in which the individual is treated but also to questions of jurisprudence and capacity. Thus the fact that there are provisions within the Act that appear to conflict with the laws and procedures of the foreign state should not by itself lead to a refusal to recognise or enforce the foreign order. Given that Parliament has included s. 63 and Schedule 3 within the MCA, clearly intending to facilitate recognition and enforcement in such circumstances, it cannot be the case that those other provisions within the Act that seemingly conflict with the laws and procedures of the foreign state are mandatory provisions of the laws of England and Wales so as to justify the English Court refusing to recognise the foreign order on grounds of such inconsistency. In such circumstances, it is only where the Court concludes that recognition of the foreign measure would be manifestly contrary to public policy that the discretionary ground to refuse recognition will arise. Furthermore, in conducting the public policy review, the Court must always bear in mind, in the words of Munby LJ in Re L (A Child) (Recognition of Foreign Order) [2012] EWCA Civ 1157 that “the test is stringent, the bar is … set high.” (paragraph 91).

There is likely to be a wide variety in the decisions made under foreign laws that are put forward for recognition under Schedule 3.  Inevitably there may be concerns about some of the foreign jurisdictions from which orders might come. But as the Ministry of Justice observed in a letter sent to the Court, taking account of such concerns is surely the purpose of the public policy review. Although no wide ranging review as to the merits of the foreign measure is either necessary or appropriate, a limited review will always be required as indicated by the European Court in Pellegrini v Italy (2002) EHRR 2. That will be sufficient to identify any cases where the content and form of the foreign measure, and the processes by which it was taken, are objectionable. The circumstances in which Schedule 3 is likely to be invoked, and the number of countries whose orders are presented for recognition, are likely to be limited. If applications were to be made from countries such as North Korea (which are unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future), the public policy review would surely lead swiftly to identifying grounds on which recognition would be refused. It is much more likely that the orders presented for recognition will be those of foreign countries whose legal systems, laws and procedures are closely aligned to our own. Concerns of this nature can be addressed by admitting evidence of the process by which the foreign protective measures were made and general evidence relating to the legal system of the state that made the order (paragraph 92).

The Court of Protection (being bound to act compatibly with the ECHR as a mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales by its incorporation into the HRA) should on any application for recognition and enforcement conduct a limited review to satisfy itself that foreign orders presented for recognition and enforcement comply with the ECHR.  In so doing, the Court should strive to achieve a combined and harmonious application of the provisions of the ECHR and the Convention (paragraph 96).

By including Schedule 3 in the MCA, Parliament must be assumed to have permitted orders to be recognised that did not comply with other laws and procedures under the statute. As the definition of “adult” in Schedule 3 paragraph 4 plainly extends to persons who may not be incapacitated within the meaning of s.2 MCA 2005, it follows that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce orders of a foreign court in terms that could not be included in an order made under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA. This is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy.  Baker J agreed with and endorsed Hedley J’s conclusion in Re MN that a decision to recognise under paragraph 19(1) or to enforce under paragraph 22(2) is not a decision governed by the best interests of the individual so that those paragraphs are not disapplied by paragraph 19(4)(b) and section 1(5) of the Act. Thus it follows that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce a measure in a foreign court order even where applying a best interests test it would not be included in an order made under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA. Again, however, this is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy (paragraph 98).

It would not be open to the Court of Protection to refuse recognition and enforcement of a foreign order simply because the individual may have the relevant decision-making capacity and objects to the order being recognised and enforced.  Such an approach would undermine the whole purpose of Schedule 3 (paragraph 101).

Specifically in the context of a foreign order compulsorily placing an individual in a psychiatric hospital in England and Wales for treatment:

  1. The limited review required should encompass the Court being satisfied that (1) the Winterwerp criteria are met and (2) that the individual’s right to challenge the detention under Article 5(4) is effective (i.e. that they have a right to take proceedings to challenge the detention and the right to regular reviews thereafter) (paragraph 96);
  2. (Agreeing with Mostyn J in Re M), an order recognising and enforcing a foreign measure under Schedule 3 is not a welfare order as defined in section 16A(4)(b). The rules as to ineligibility in section 16A therefore do not apply. This means that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce orders of a foreign court depriving an individual of his liberty in circumstances in which it would not able to do so under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA on the grounds that the individual is being treated or is treatable under the MHA as defined in Schedule 1A of the MCA. Once again, however, this is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy (paragraph 98);
  3. The “conditions of implementation” provided for in paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 (which are governed by English law), are that the requirements of the ECHR are met, in particular the Winterwerp criteria and reviews of sufficient regularity to satisfy Article 5(4) (paragraph 102);
  4. Most such orders presented for recognition are likely to be of short duration, and/or in respect of persons whose capacity may fluctuate, and/or who are in receipt of a progressive form of treatment. As a result, in such cases there is likely to be repeated requests to scrutinise a succession of orders. Recognition and enforcement is likely to require close co-operation, not only between the medical and social care authorities of the two countries, but also between the Courts and legal systems. The Convention provides a mechanism using the Central Authorities but, pending ratification of the Convention, there may well be the need for direct communication between judges of the two jurisdictions (paragraph 93).

On the facts of the cases before him, Baker J considered that (1) each of the individuals: was an “adult” within the meaning of Schedule 3; (2) that each was habitually resident in the Republic of Ireland; (3) in each case that the individual was given a proper opportunity to be heard for the purposes of paragraph 19(3)(b); (4)  that in each case the individual satisfies the criteria for detention under Article 5(1)(e), namely the Winterwerp criteria; (4) that the orders of the Irish Court demonstrate that each will be afforded a regular right of review of his or her detention so as to comply with the ongoing requirements of Article 5(4); (5) that as a result recognising and enforcing the orders will not contravene the ECHR; (6) that the measures in each case are not inconsistent with any other mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales; and (7) that the measures cannot be said to be manifestly contrary to public policy.  Baker J therefore made orders providing that protective measures in the Irish orders were to be recognised in England and Wales and enforced in this jurisdiction.

Baker J also used the opportunity:

  1. To express the hope that the Court of Protection Rules will in due course be amended to incorporate comprehensive rules to support Schedule 3 as soon as possible, including rules as to allocation of applications under the Schedule;
  2. To provide that, pending the introduction of such rules, any application under Schedule 3 at this stage should be listed for a full High Court Judge in the first instance, and thereafter, all further hearings in connection with that application, and any further applications under the Schedule in respect of the same individual, should be listed before the same judge (if available) unless expressly released by him or her to another judge;
  3. To note that one issue that requires clarification by the ad hoc Rules Committee is whether a litigation friend should be appointed in cases such as those before him.  Baker J expressed the preliminary view that a litigation friend should be appointed to act for individuals who are the subject of applications for recognition and enforcement under Schedule 3 (unless, of course, that individual has capacity to conduct proceedings applying the provisions of the MCA).

Comment

Although these cases are unusual, the analysis by Baker J of Schedule 3 has ramifications going far beyond the context of compulsory placements for psychiatric treatment.   Of particular importance for practitioners are the following point

  1. Confirmation that – as in cases involving children under Brussels and Hague instruments – when we come to consider cross-border cases involving recognition and enforcement of measures taken in relation to adults with impairments, the English courts are operating in a very different sphere to purely domestic cases.   In the context of recognition and enforcement, the Court of Protection: a)Will not be applying the test of capacity contained in s.2(1) MCA 2005 (save in considering whether the adult has litigation capacity); and b)Will not be applying the best interests test contained in s.1(5) and s.4 MCA 2005 (save in relation to implementation of the measures). In other words, the Court of Protection, and those appearing before it, has mentally to undertake a very significant gear shift in such cases.   Such a gear shift is one that many family practitioners and judges still find difficult in relation to cross-border cases involving children; it will perhaps be even more difficult in relation to adults where we are still taking baby steps in the identification of common themes and common practices across borders (and where we have yet in England and Wales to ratify the Convention…);
  2. Confirmation, further, that the ability of the Court of Protection to refuse to recognise and declare enforceable foreign protective measures is very limited;
  3. Confirmation that, for purposes of applications for recognition and enforcement, the Court of Protection is effectively bound by the decisions of the foreign court as to the habitual residence of the individual (as to habitual residence more generally, see also the note by Adrian on the decision in AG v RN [2015] UKSC 35 in the Scotland Newsletter);
  4. Confirmation that by passing Schedule 3 in the form that it did, Parliament opened the door to applications for recognition and enforcement to be made from any country in the world, with no ‘filter’ specific to non-Convention countries (save for the limited filter in relation to cross-border placements between Convention countries in paragraphs 19(4) and 26 which will only become relevant when the Convention in ratified in respect of England and Wales).

Cross-border matters are now part of the daily reality of very many practitioners (not least because, for these purposes, Scotland is a foreign country…).    Cases with a cross-border element will, we predict, come before the Court of Protection with ever more frequency.   And, in due course, we anticipate that much the same will be said in relation to the Convention and to such cases as has been said by Sir James Munby P in relation to the earlier Hague Conventions applicable to children and their European counterparts:

They have exposed us, often if only in translation, to what our judicial colleagues in other jurisdictions are doing in a wide range of family cases. They have taught us the sins of insularity. They have taught us that there are other equally effective ways of doing things which once upon a time we assumed could only be done as we were accustomed to doing them. They have taught us that, beneath all the apparent differences in language and legal system, family judges around the world are daily engaged on very much the same task, using very much the same tools and applying the same insights and approaches as those we are familiar with. Most important of all they have taught that we can, as we must, both respect and trust our judicial colleagues abroad.Re E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam)

All this, of course, suggests that everyone should:

  1. Rush out and purchase The International Protection of Adults, the only work which seeks to map out both the Convention and the frameworks for decision-making in relation to those with impairments in core jurisdictions around the world;
  2. Identify to Alex and the co-authors of the book any jurisdictions which should be included and volunteer to produce the necessary information for a chapter to be included in the next edition.

CategoryArticle 5 ECHR - Deprivation of liberty, Recognition and enforcement Author Alexander Ruck Keene Date

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